Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1948-1961; Baltimore Orioles, 1962-1965; Houston Astros, 1965-1966; Chicago Cubs, 1966
On the final day of the 1950 season,
Robin Roberts became the first Phillies
hurler since 1917 to notch 20 victories.
Robin Evan Roberts (born in 1926) was raised in Springfield, Illinois, where he was a good high school basketball player. He attended Michigan State University on a basketball scholarship in 1945 after his discharge from the Air Force. He found his way to the diamond, and eventually dominated. He threw two no-hitters at MSU and by 1948 was the subject of a bidding contest. The Phillies offered him a $25,000 bonus, and Robin signed.
Roberts spent just part of the 1948 season in the Inter-State League, giving up only 82 hits in 96 innings and fanning 121 for a 9-1 record. Late that season, he joined the Phillies team. They finished third in 1949 and first in ’50.
In that first-place season, Roberts was 20-11 and was among the league leaders in nearly every significant category. His 20-win season that year was the first of six consecutive 20-plus win seasons as the “Whiz Kids” -- so known because of youthful stars Roberts, Curt Simmons, and Richie Ashburn -- bowed to the Yankees in the World Series. Roberts gave up just one run in the first nine innings of his sole start, losing to a Joe DiMaggio homer in the 10th. It was to be Robin’s only shot at a championship, as his teams only twice finished as high as third during the rest of his career.
In 1952, Roberts was 28-7, the leader of the league by 10 wins, and recorded the most National League wins in 50 years. From 1953 to 1955, he led the NL with 23 wins a year. He led the league in games started from ’50 to ’55, and in complete games from 1952 to ’56. He also led the NL with 198 strikeouts in 1953 and 185 Ks in 1954. He had outstanding control and extraordinary durability, leading the league in innings in four straight seasons but allowing very few walks.
The poor quality of his teams and the constant managerial changes that accompany failure did not dim his ardor for pitching. Although he led the NL in losses in 1956 and 1957, he was a good pitcher from 1958 to 1965, save for the 1961 season.
Roberts later said, “I had a fine right arm and a great delivery, but I pitched too much and wore myself down.” He became a driving force in the Players Association, swaying the organization to pick Marvin Miller as its head. Roberts was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.
Here are Robin Roberts' major league totals:
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